I couldn’t have had a more disrupted year; flooded by Storm Desmond in December, and my bunion removed in February. The latter my friends thought very amusing, as George Fisher has a large sign in the window stating, “Put your feet in our hands. Feet come in all shapes and sizes; given time and a little patience we can find the perfect fit”. I would agree; I’d kept the beast at bay for years with careful footwear choice, but hitting 50 seemed to be a turning point.
The bunion didn’t enjoy my love of running any distance and tended to blister in bogs (we have many). Ski boots had become excruciating, despite being stretched and using orthotics. After reading tales of success from the operation, I finally opted for surgery. Afterwards, I diligently followed the exercises I was given and was able to slowly started walking in the spring. How I missed the fells; air, snow, even rain. By the end of April and I could manage a fast walk and with great delight I could fit into my Salomon running shoes.
Coinciding with this, Patagonia delivered some staff test Nano Air Jackets (£190 with hood, £10 vest). I thought “It’s nearly summer, I’ll never use that”, but then it snowed and snowed some more. What a fantastic piece of insulation. I’ve never felt I was overheating as it has great breathability. I was sceptical of the softer fabric at first, however its stretch adds to the overall comfort; I like it because the fabric is quiet, so many outdoor fabrics are noisy. It is now one of my preferred layers, and am looking forward to many fresh autumn days using it. It’s now six months after my operation, and I used the Patagonia Nano way more than I thought.
My yoga has gone backwards, as I need to retrain and gain strength for balances, but I’m able to run 10k. I can do 12, but not 15, yes I tried, it’s a little too sore. Birkenstock sandals have never felt so good, in fact all new shoes are so easy to put on but still have to have considered support. New shoes that will encourage me out in all weather this autumn will be the Salomon S-Lab XA Alpine (£200), with my new foot do you think it might be possible to visit all of the Wainwrights this winter? I do like its solid sole unit which they call ‘carbon chassis technology’. It’s a shoe with a durable cover, keeping out debris, water resistant so will keep out snow; not designed for paddling in the lake, but breathable, so not sweaty. Its outsole is made from Salomon’s premium wet traction Contagrip which worked pretty well thundering down a damp cobbled track the other night! Fell running shoes get easily trashed as they’re used for everything and more than a boot, these XA Alpines I’m hoping are going to stand up to a good winter bashing. We have a small test pool available here at George Fisher if you want to give them a go; the record for Skiddaw still stands at 1:02:18!
If I am going to generate a head of steam from my new-found speed, I might also need to consider the new Arc’teryx Phasic fabrics as a base layer. Not only good at moisture management, but with a softer handle and greater stretch for improved comfort. I’ve already liked using this fabric, so I love the improvements. And if my mind wanders to my ski holiday I could consider their Mid Weight Merino and Nylon Core Spun Merino layers, perfect for warmth.
I’m sat here in August anticipating winter, and there’s so much to be excited about; I must remember to enjoy scampering about the Lakeland heather-covered hillsides through September and not wish life away!